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This presentation provided an opening look at the topic of digital-age storytelling in museums, with an emphasis on web and social media outreach and the ways in which museums can be both storytellers as well as platforms for stories. I served as moderator for the panel discussion which featured 3 other case studies from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, and the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

Journey Through Hallowed Ground
The Cutting Edge of Public History: New Directions in Interpretation Symposium
March 28, 2018

This presentation provided an opening look at the topic of digital-age storytelling in museums, with an emphasis on web and social media outreach and the ways in which museums can be both storytellers as well as platforms for stories. I served as moderator for the panel discussion which featured 3 other case studies from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, and the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

Journey Through Hallowed Ground
The Cutting Edge of Public History: New Directions in Interpretation Symposium
March 28, 2018

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Storytelling Through Technology and Media

  1. 1. Storytelling through Technology and Media The Cutting Edge of Public History: New Directions in Interpretation Symposium March 28, 2018
  2. 2. Storytelling through Technology and Media Exhibition Films Digital Archive of Oral Histories Student-Developed Vodcasts
  3. 3. About Me Dana Allen-Greil Chief of Web and Social Media National Archives Formerly: ● National Museum of American History ● National Gallery of Art Adjunct Museum Studies faculty: ● Johns Hopkins University ● Georgetown University @danamuses
  4. 4. Reflecting on 15 Years of Digital Stories
  5. 5. Why Storytelling in Museums? “Storytelling works because it helps the visitor create a narrative frame on which to hang the facts and images encountered. It’s like a structure made of Velcro just waiting to grab facts and images onto itself. Story structure is an innate part of human consciousness and central to the way we organize knowledge. The visitor does not have to create something new or external to integrate the knowledge transmitted through story. Storytelling takes away the stress of learning and creates receptivity and emotional readiness.” - Liz Warren, Kathy Eastman, Sandy Oglesby The Docent Educator * Museums = my shorthand for institutions of public history, art, culture, heritage tourism, etc.
  6. 6. How Do Museums Tell Stories? •Exhibits •Objects •Label text •Audio •Video •Interactives •Immersion in “narrative spaces” •Tours •Live humans •Audio •Mobile •Programs •Discussions •Costumed interpretation •Theatrical performances •Publications •Books •Websites •Blogs •Podcasts •Social Media
  7. 7. Conflict Plot
  8. 8. Character development Scene setting
  9. 9. Plot
  10. 10. Conflict
  11. 11. Climax
  12. 12. Resolution …?
  13. 13. Call to action / hyperlink Hashtag Mention
  14. 14. Who Tells Stories? “Everyone tells stories about themselves and uses stories to understand the world around them. Key storytelling techniques such as setting the scene, building to a climax, or twist in the tale, are familiar to most of us through books and theatre. As everyone has the capacity to tell stories it also helps break down the division between the expert delivering knowledge to a passive receptive audience.” - David Francis and Sam Gayton in partnership with the British Museum
  15. 15. How Can Museums Be a Platform for Stories?
  16. 16. Scene setting
  17. 17. “Over time, what digital has done is, it’s evolved storytelling–it’s taken it away from the hands of just authors and publishers, and it’s brought it to everyone. So, obviously technology made it easier for anyone to create content ...and it also gave us platforms that let stories spread wide and far...methods of engagement that dwarf everything that came before, unprecedented ways to immerse yourself in a story, and to offer interactive stories.” -Samir Patel, “A Framework for Digital Storytelling in Museums,” MuseumNext How Is Storytelling Changing in a Digital Age?
  18. 18. Digital Age Storytelling “Superpowers” “Digital-aged storytelling gives museums superpowers to tell bigger and more complex stories—stories that cannot be told through a single point of view. Within digital-age storytelling, visitors are able to create their own connections.” - Philip Tiongson and Annie Polland See digitalstory.lestm.org for more on this topic, including helpful framing presentations by Dr. Amelia Wong.
  19. 19. Why Do Stories Matter? “...stories have the power to change people. That change is why we tell stories, and we tell inclusive stories because it’s impossible to hate someone whose story you know.” - Matthew Solari, “Creating the Inclusive Museum Through Storytelling,” Museum Next
  20. 20. The records in the National Archives tell the nation’s stories...what the public will do with them is limitless.
  21. 21. Zora Neale Hurston There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.
  22. 22. References ● British Museum. Talking Objects: Storytelling (2014) britishmuseum.org/PDF/storytelling_resource_changed_font_size.pdf ● Patel, S. “A Framework for Digital Storytelling in Museums.” MuseumNext (2015) https://www.museumnext.com/insight/digital_storytelling_in_museums/ ● Solari, M. “Creating the Inclusive Museum Through Storytelling.” MuseumNext. (2015) museumnext.com/insight/creating-the-inclusive-museum-through-storytelling/ ● Warren, L., Eastman, K., and Oglesby, S. “Storytelling: Invoking the Muse,” The Docent Educator (Autumn 2003) ● Wong, A. et al. Digital Age Storytelling Toolkit (2016) digitalstory.lestm.org

Editor's Notes

  • During today’s session we’ll hear three short case studies of about 15 minutes each and then we’ll have a Q&A. I’m also going to provide a short overview of the topic and discuss a few web and social media projects I’ve been involved with.

    Photo Credits:
    https://nmaahc.si.edu/about/images
    http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2009/10/putting-names-with-faces-of-braceros.html
    https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/gallery.htm?id=2AF9957F-1DD8-B71C-07765A028AE8C3BA


  • https://www.instagram.com/p/BV-iveDH6-B/?taken-by=danamuses
  • https://danamus.es/portfolio/
  • Warren, Liz, Kathy Eastman and Sandy Oglesby. “Storytelling: Invoking the Muse,” The Docent Educator 13.1 (Autumn 2003): 14-16. Velcro image: http://www.industrialwebbing.com/polyester-velcro/
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2011/07/theater-preview-bringing-the-past-to-life.html
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/
    One of the first museum projects I ever worked on was an exhibition website in 2004 created for the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/index.html Like a physical exhibition it incorporated label text, objects and photos, quotes, and stories. It also included some audio and video content.
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/4-five/topeka-kansas-2.html
    Here is the story of Oliver Brown, whose name the Supreme Court case references.
  • https://www.instagram.com/stories/usnatarchives/
    Fast forward 14 years. Yesterday, the U.S. National Archives (where I work) used a feature on Instagram (literally “Instagram Stories”) to share the story of Linda Brown, the daughter of Oliver Brown, who died this week.
  • https://www.instagram.com/stories/usnatarchives/
  • https://www.instagram.com/stories/usnatarchives/
  • https://www.instagram.com/stories/usnatarchives/
  • https://www.instagram.com/stories/usnatarchives/ This last screen shows some of the different approaches to storytelling in a digital age. Calls to action to learn more, hashtags to gain audiences interested in topics that are already receiving attention, and tagging of other organizations and accounts to form a more welcoming and widespread dialogue. The other difference here is that this story is being pushed to users rather than being sought out. Instagram users watch and interact with stories when they wake up, before they go to bed, in line for coffee, or on the metro. Museums are now able to make their storytelling a part of people’s everyday lives in unprecendented ways.
  • http://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/storytelling_resource_changed_font_size.pdf
    All of the previous examples used “museum voice,” usually a curator or other expert who does not identify themselves individually. But as this guide for museums shows, everyone can tell stories.
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog
    Back in 2008, I founded the blog at the National Museum of American History. It was a way for us to share stories about the museum while we were closed for a two year renovation project, but it also helped us move beyond “museum voice” and tell stories by a variety of individuals in their own voices.
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2010/05/sweet-sour-memories-of-a-chinese-restaurant.html
    In this example, the voice is that of a curator...but what’s different about this content from a traditional museum label or publication is that it is told in a personal voice, with attribution to the individual, and even featuring photos of himself as a child. This kind of storytelling helps to humanize the institution and create more powerful connections with audiences.
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/10-things-exhibition-installation The blog also enabled us to bring people behind the scenes in new ways and to showcase the work of staff (this is a collections manager) who might otherwise go unrecognized by the public.
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmuseumofamericanhistory/14532643428/in/album-72157645441076078/
  • http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2011/09/11-visitor-comment-cards-in-memory-of-september-11.html
  • http://amhistory.si.edu/september11/tellyourstory/
    The September 11 Digital Archives houses 70,000+ items submitted by people between 2002 and today to remember and reflect on September 11.
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070629161008/http://americanhistory.si.edu:80/brown/reflections/index.asp
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070123182546/http://americanhistory.si.edu:80/Brown/reflections/topic.asp?p=4&s=&id=0
    I went to school in Lake Charles, Louisiana during segregation. The separate but equal ideals were firmly in place. There were color and white drinking faucets, bathrooms, schools, and dining. I attended First Ward Colored Elementary School and later attended W.O.Boston High School also segregated. We had delapidated, run down, and mostly lesser facilities than those the Whites at First Ward White Elementary School possessed, we had written in books filled with racial slurs, missing pages, and generally unusable text books, they had school bus to ride in during summer and winter, as we walked froze or burned up in winter and summer to school. When we walked pass the white schools on our way to school we were called names and sometimes attacked with fist, rocks, or any thing availble to hurt us with. When attacked we we punished for fighting back. The experience was horrific and it still burns in my memory. Our principle Mrs. Williams was very strict on us and made excuses for the White's behavior, the text books, our school's general condition. We were told that this was as good as it got and that we were destined to always be treated as inferior. I almost hated her for that. We were indeed having our dreams stolen by black educators along with the racist whites in power. The schools desegregated sometime after I left Louisiana in 1963.
  • https://www.instagram.com/p/Bevq5TBB4_7/?hl=en&taken-by=lacma
  • https://www.instagram.com/p/Be8rRCnhfGH/?hl=en&taken-by=lacma
  • https://www.instagram.com/p/Be8rRCnhfGH/?hl=en&taken-by=lacma
  • https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/urbanlightturns10/?hl=en
  • https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/urbanlightturns10/?hl=en
  • https://www.museumnext.com/insight/digital_storytelling_in_museums/
  • http://digitalstory.lestm.org/index.php/digital-age-storytelling-grid/ http://digitalstory.lestm.org/index.php/eval-museums-digital-storytelling/
  • https://www.museumnext.com/insight/creating-the-inclusive-museum-through-storytelling/
  • https://danamus.es/2016/06/17/meet-joseph-lobdell-lucy-ann-slater/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joseph_Lobdell&oldid=725723657
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Lobdell
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joseph_Lobdell&action=history
  • https://narations.blogs.archives.gov/2018/01/18/why-do-we-engage-citizen-archivists/
  • https://www.npr.org/2011/02/23/133996265/Zora-Neale-Hurston-Captured-Essence-Of-Blackness
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